Two dead identified in parking lot collapse


ATLANTA -- Officials have identified the two victims of the sinkhole disaster at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in midtown Atlanta Monday as employees of the hotel's restaurant.

Victoria Vaynshteyn and Oscar Cano fell 35 feet into a drainage ditch when the sinkhole opened and were buried by debris.


Vaynshteyn was in her car and Cano was apparently walking in the parking lot when the incident occurred.

Three vehicles in the lot were swallowed by the hole. One was found three miles away after it was carried down a sewer pipe.

Investigators said the cave-in was apparently caused by a combination of the heavy rains and a 70-year-old sewer pipe. City officials reportedly knew the aging pipe posed a threat to the parking lot.

Atlanta Fire Department spokesman, Tim Szysmanski said after rescue workers complete a final sweep of the area Tuesday, they'll turn the site over to the public works department for stabilization.


Szymanski said construction crews will begin work Tuesday to excavate and reconstruct the parking lot to make sure the hole doesn't get any worse.

The huge sinkhole, measuring 200 feet in diameter, swallowed at least three vehicles, authorities said.

'We surveyed the sewer and there was some cracking but not enough to be alarmed about,' said acting Public Works Commissioner Douglas Hooker. 'There was a potential for a cave-in, but we didn't anticipate anything like this.'

Mayor Maynard Jackson, who rushed to the scene to review the damage, said it was too early to blame the city or any one individual.

'We do not know what caused this,' said Jackson. 'There's no way to ascertain accountability at this point.'

Members of a police rescue team removed the body of a woman from a vehicle that was buried in the sinkhole. She was not immediately identified.

Two hotel employees, a man and a woman, were reported missing.

A body recovered from a sewer outlet about four miles from the sinkhole had not been identified as one of the victims by late Monday.

Fire Department spokesman Tim Samansky said one of the vehicles that disappeared from the parking lot when it caved in was found three miles away in a 10-foot drainage pipe.


'We know right now there's a car in the drainage pipe and it's not supposed to be there,' said Samansky. 'Apparently it had been washed down the pipe during the cave-in.'

Hotel manager Tom Agar said about 100 people were evacuated from the 168-room, eight-story hotel and relocated because all utilities were shut off to allow work crews to inspect the damage in and around the sinkhole.

Part of the back wall of Wolf Camera and Video, next to the hotel parking area, collapsed as the ground under it gave way. Four employees in the building were evacuated when stress cracks were detected in the wall.

Fire Chief David Chamberlain said he thought the weather could hamper efforts to contain the sinkhole.

'We're anticipating that we're going to get more rain and we don't know exactly where that rain's going to go when it gets into the hole,' said Chamberlain. 'Right now, the discharge to that hole is the storm drain system.'

The National Weather Service said more than 2 inches of rain fell in 40 minutes Monday morning, stranding several motorists at underpasses and intersections and overflowing creeks.

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